In the July section of our book, we share some ideas for taking care of wildlife and the birds that visit your garden or neighbourhood. Sometimes putting out bird food – and do check that this is permitted where you live – can attract other less welcome visitors, too. So, today we have some tips for ways to feed the birds, not rodents, by deterring rats and mice from joining the party.
Feed the Birds, not rodents
- Rats are attracted by fallen seeds so you can buy ‘no mess’ bird food that has already been hulled and prepared so the birds don’t need to remove the outer layers. It also has the advantage of not sprouting, so you won’t get unwanted plants growing underneath your feeders.
- Try to match your feeder to your food, so that seeds don’t fall out of holes designed for larger items like nuts.
- Check your feeders in the evening and remove any excess seed which has accumulated to stop it ending up on the ground.
- To catch any seeds that do drop, you can add a tray underneath the feeder or buy one which is designed to minimise spillage.
- If your feeder is on pole you can add a ‘baffle’, an impediment to stop anything climbing up it. We know from experience that rats are quite athletic, so this may be useful!
- If you like to put out food for birds that feed on the ground like blackbirds and wrens, only give them enough to finish in one day. Rats like to feed at night, so you don’t want any ‘leftovers’ for them.
From hats to havens for birds
Speaking of birds, here is an interesting historical snippet featuring some inspiring women. The largest nature conservation charity in the UK is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds which was founded in 1889 by Emily Williamson with just one objective. As the RSPB website puts it, the Society was formed,
“to fight the fashion for feathers and exotic plumes that were driving birds like little egrets, great crested grebes and birds of paradise towards extinction. [Emily’s] all-woman movement was born out of frustration that the male-only British Ornithologists’ Union was not acting on the issue”. The group was so successful that it gained its Royal Charter in 1904 and in 1921 an Act of Parliament was passed to prohibit the importation of feathers.
Around 133 years later, the RSPB is thriving, with more than a million members and around 170 Nature Reserves. A plaque in memory of Emily Williamson can be found at her former home at The Croft in Didsbury, Manchester, and next year a statue of Emily by Eve Shepherd (which will show her holding a copy of the 1921 Act) will be erected in Fletcher Moss Park nearby.
And finally, for anyone who is interested in birds, we highly recommend the blog Back Yard Bird Nerd which is full of stunning photographs.
Until next time,
Claire and Sam
Images used with thanks to:
Susann Mielke, collared dove; Congerdesign, blue tit. Both from Pixabay.com
Emily Williamson, the RSPB